Senior Launch Program Aims to Prepare Graduating Students for Life After Oberlin


Mallika Pandey

College fourth-year Andres Carrero interviews over Zoom for a potential post-graduation job.

The Career Development Center is gearing up to commence the first ever Senior Launch Program, which will feature workshops on job searching, life skills, and navigating identity in the workplace. Participants will receive a professional headshot and a $400 award to assist in their post-graduate transition. 

The class of 2021 is graduating into a job market that is still facing upheaval due to COVID-19. College fourth-year Daniel Fleischer — who is currently applying for fellowships in international politics and development — has found the job application process to be discouraging. 

“In my house, the ‘J word’ is banned,” Fleischer said. “It’s stressful. To some extent I think that’s normal, to some extent I think it’s because we all know the job market is bad.” 

Dustin Evatt-Young, associate director of the Career Development Center, explained that this program was designed to help students hunt for jobs during the pandemic. 

“It’s important for any program that we do to be relevant to where students are in their journey and where they are in their college experience and also meeting the needs of the time,” Evatt-Young said. “The pandemic’s happening to everyone, so how do you make sure that you’re telling a story that’s authentic and resonates with the hiring manager, that demonstrates that you are being resilient, that you’ve been innovative, that you’ve shown all these leadership skills that makes you the best candidate possible?” 

While the Career Development Center’s programming for first, second, and third-years focus more on career exploration, value alignment, and developing career skills, the Senior Launch Program focuses on more advanced career readiness and tangible life skills that graduating students will need in the coming months. 

“I think the emphasis for us is that we really do want it to be a very practical hands-on experience and that students can leave the program feeling like they’re taking away a lot of really great information to be able to apply in the process,” Evatt-Young said. “This is not something you’re going to learn and apply several semesters down the road. You’re actually going to be able to apply this now in real time as you’re job searching in the coming weeks.”

The Senior Launch Program also focuses on skills that students will need to transition out of college once they have figured out their next step. 

“Oftentimes when students graduate from college, that’s when reality sets in. Now that I’ve got a job, how do I manage my income? How do I file taxes?”” Evatt-Young said. “We want to make sure that we’re providing opportunities for students to understand those life skills.”

Fleischer hopes that the Senior Launch Program will provide the boost he needs to prepare for post-grad life. 

“When I look at the list of the workshops, the ones that get me the most excited are the ones that have hard skills — the taxing and the budgeting and negotiating,” Fleischer said. “I feel like I’m going to gain skills. Right now I don’t feel prepared at all, and this will hopefully give me a jumping-off point.” 

In addition to workshops on job searching and life skills, students will also attend sessions on inclusive professionalism and can partake in affinity group discussions. 

“I hope that this training gives students practical skills to navigate and be successful in the diverse workplaces they will find themselves in after Oberlin,” Senior Assistant Director for Career Readiness and Inclusive Excellence Shelby Pykare wrote in an email to the Review. “The [diversity, equity, and inclusion] training for Senior Launch is closely tied with ideas about professionalism. Personally, I hope that students will gain a more inclusive understanding of what it means to be a ’professional’ that is de-centered from whiteness and cisnormativity.”

DEI workshops and conversations around identity have become a major part of the Career Development Center’s programming for non-seniors as well. 

“DEI training is so important to our work because we want our students to be successful in the diverse environments they will enter after Oberlin, and we want them to be prepared to know how to improve those environments to make them more equitable,” Pykare wrote. 

At the culmination of the program, students will attend a virtual connections fair to talk to alumni and parents in their field of interest. They will be able to practice the elevator pitches and networking skills that they developed in the workshops. 

“We’re really excited about the connection fair,” Evatt-Young said. “That’s kind of the culminating event at the end of the program. It really gives seniors the opportunity to practice and to apply their skills.”

The Senior Launch Program will run from March 8 through April 14. Graduating students can register for the program before March 3 via a link emailed to the class of 2021.